the original kStyle blog.

Monday, April 04, 2005

My 2 Cents on the Passing of the Pope

My great-grandmother (“Vovo”) lived in a little apartment in my grandparents’ house, if I remember correctly. I’d step into her little kitchen for malassadas, where she would scold me for starting to eat mine as soon as it was placed before me. I’m still not sure why that was rude. Pope John Paul II watched over us from his frame on the wall.

The Pope died this week, as anyone near a news source was bound to know before it happened. It seemed a little rude to me that they kept eulogizing him before he was gone. I’d be pissed if they did that to me, but likely I’m not as patient as the Pope was.

I’ve heard that lots of young Catholics adored this Pope. He was a sort of hero, a rockstar, to them. It struck me as strange, being myself a refugee from the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. He was way off the mark on women’s rights. He was most hetero-normative in his worldview. I believe the Vatican even advised against practicing yoga during his papacy. All of which conspired to give me a view of a man out-of-touch with “real life” in our world.

Listening to the countless biographies this week, a new Pope John Paul II emerged from that frame on the wall. He opposed Communism vehemently because he believed it focused too much on the material world; it was not that Capitalism was great, but rather that the Communists were barking up the wrong tree. He certainly believed in charity and caring for the poor. He was almost a pacifist and spoke often of fostering a “culture of life”, which to him included freedom from war and the death penalty as well as abortion. (American conservatives often want one without the other two.) He strove for ecumenism, particularly among the People of the Book, and was the very first pope to reach out to the Jewish and Muslim people. Against the backdrop of the arch-conservatism of the Church, he was practically a hippie.

And yet, his own conservatism: women could not be priests and priests could not be married. Contraception was out of the question. PBS taught me this week that Pope John Paul II did not hate women, as I'd suspected, but rather the opposite: he loved them too reverently. He believed that the Virgin Mary had saved his life from that would-be assassin. He adored her; he adored Woman; and in adoring, he felt he had to protect the Sanctity of Women. Childbearing was, to him, the essential, holy quality that set women apart from men. It must be protected. There is always this danger of idealizing a gender, a race, a creed, and thereby doing its people injustice. To me, however, the intention does matter, and I feel differently about this pope’s stance on women, knowing that it came from a place of misguided love rather than anger.

What can I say? The pope was human and could not have been perfect. I respect him more now that I know he was, above all, an idealist, and I wish him peace in the journey to the next life.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home